At times of challenge, or crisis even, it’s tempting to batten down the hatches, dig in and wait out the ‘storm’. While in an actual storm this may be sound advice, in life generally, and business particularly, ‘waiting it out’ is rarely the best course of action.
In the business context, challenging times usually result from one or more of the following; inertia, conformity, fear and not staying true to your own values. Yet we often blame external factors like the economy, our location, our competition, another’s behaviour, the size and reach of our business, our lack of time, money, connections, and so on. It’s easier isn’t it – blame something you don’t feel you have control over and it’s not your fault, right?
The challenge with this approach is that you can’t fix stuff you have no control over, you are destined to be a victim of your circumstances and that is no way to run your business (or your life). Sure things happen that you have no control over, and I’ve certainly had my share of those in the last few weeks, but then you make a choice: focus on the things you can do nothing about, or focus on the things you can control.
Your actions, your attitude and your congruence are all things you have control over. You decide how you show up and behave, you decide which challenges you face and which you hide from, and you decide when to stand out and when to fit in based on what really matters to you. I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s not, but it’s better than inertia, being stuck in your fear or conforming at the expense of what you truly believe.
I know for many business owners the environment feels more fragile and more volatile in recent times. I also believe that in times of uncertainty some businesses thrive and others do not survive. This is largely down to action, attitude and congruence – being super clear what you are prepared to do and what you are not, having a plan and most importantly having the courage to act on your plan.
This clarity, this focus, makes it easier to combat inertia, it helps you to stay true to your values and most importantly it helps you move through fear rather than being stuck in it.
BTW, fear is a normal part of life, we all feel fear, it’s neither desirable nor possible to rid ourselves of fear, it is a neurological message, a chemical reaction, a confirmation we are outside of our regular, automated neurological activity – we are alive, experiencing and processing what is going on within and around us. Fear shows up in different ways for different people, it has the capacity to completely derail your dreams, undermine your confidence and keep you stuck – or ‘waiting it out’ until it passes – usually because you have made an excuse or lowered your expectations.
The only way out of fear is to move through it – to take some action, to change the chemical reaction happening within us. The action doesn’t have to be constructive ‘on your business’ stuff, it could be a distraction, physical activity, or relaxation – it does need to be a circuit breaker, something that creates a change in your neurological state.
So here is my question for you. Are you clear about what you and your business stand for, and do you have a plan for making that happen?
For many people I talk to the answer is yes at a superficial level, but once we start to drill down into what are you prepared to do, what are the lines you won’t cross, where does fear and your excuses get in the way, answers – and conviction, become more vague surprisingly quickly. There is certainly a balance to be struck between deep exploration of the soul and getting on with the job – none of us can afford to ignore our day to day business function, but neither can we afford to ignore clarity and focus on the things that really matter to us.
My advice? Start small and make focus a habit – your way of working. What do you need to be paying attention to right now, what is the thing that you can control and impact that makes a difference to how – or if, you deal with challenges?
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